Robert Lewandowski was crowned the finest player in the world at FIFA’s The Best Awards on Monday evening.
The usually celebrity-saturated ceremony took on a very different tone this year as it was conducted on an almost entirely virtual basis.
Instead of the glitzy ballroom and an audience packed to the rafters, a studio in Zurich welcomed the eye of the world as some of the most outstanding talent in football was honoured for their stellar 2021’s.
Emma Hayes produced the reaction of the evening as she was named Women’s Coach of the Year while Thomas Tuchel made it a Chelsea clean sweep by claiming the men’s award.
Elsewhere, Edouard Mendy was named the best goalkeeper while Erik Lamela’s rabona against the old enemy, Arsenal, won the Puskas Award for the goal of the year.
However, it was the award for the men’s and women’s player of the year that everyone was waiting for on the night.
However, it wasn’t just the Egyptian king and the Argentine maestro that he had to outdo, with the full list of standings emerging in the aftermath of the ceremony.
Voted for by national team captains and coaches from every single FIFA member nation as well as a media representative from each, the competition can often be fierce.
2022 was no different with Lewandowski (48) finishing just a measly four votes ahead of Messi (44) in second and nine votes ahead of Salah (39) in third.
Real Madrid hitman Karim Benzema finished in fourth with 30 votes and, in truth, has every right to feel hard done by after what was an incredible year for the French star.
Meanwhile, Chelsea’s engine-that-could, N’Golo Kante (24) rounded out the top five having played such a crucial role in the Blues’ march to Champions League glory.
He only just snuck in ahead of Jorginho who finished on the same number of votes while the award ceremony ever present, Cristiano Ronaldo finished with 23.
The numbers do begin to trail off rather dramatically from that point on with the next best tally belonging to Kylian Mbappe with 16.
Kevin De Bruyne follows behind Mbappe with 11 votes while Neymar and Erling Haaland round out the top 11 with 10 and 7 votes respectively.